Posts Tagged With: friends

North by Northwest, Then East Toward the Sunny Side

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 9, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

We moved to the Northwest when only two of you had joined the family. What an adventure for all of us. That many years ago cell phones didn’t really exist yet. Surprisingly, we didn’t experience any car problems, which if you recall our travel history, probably made it to the record books. Driving that far with two little kids on my own (your Dad was already working and had found us a place to live) helped me feel like a mini-rockstar.



I’ll never forget when we pulled up to the local playground to wait for your Dad to bring keys to the new apartment. You both hopped out of the car, relieved to finally escape and stretch your legs. Little J immediately walked over to a boy on the monkey bars and said, “We just moved here. Will you be my friend?”

That floored me. What a direct and honest thing to say. Luckily, four year olds aren’t all tangled up in social customs and nonsense. They just say what they think, do what they feel, go with the mood.

Both of you made friends with kids of all ages when we lived in that first apartment, which helped me get to know the adults associated with those kids. You made the big change to a really new place so much easier. (As a side note, do you remember picking wild blackberries in the woods nearby? I think I might still have a scar or two.)

We added Big L to the family while we lived there. Then we moved a couple of years later, forty miles north. I loved that restaurant we went to that had the little train that ran on tracks suspended from the ceiling. They served this appetizer called an onion loaf. Basically fried onion rings packed into a bread loaf shape. But my tastebuds sidetrack us here.

We still have a cassette tape (which I should transfer to digital) of a typical morning there. For some reason there’s a cat in the house, although we didn’t own one, must have been a neighbor’s. I love hearing your voices, our discussion about needing lunches packed or buying lunches that day. Big L saying “stupid cat,” over and over again. And figuring out who was walking or riding with who. I think it might’ve been raining (ha, like that’s a wild guess for up there, huh?). Ah, good times.

  • Big L discovered knots when we lived there. She used to disappear into my closet and tie all the shoes together, which made getting ready to go somewhere an interesting exercise.
  • Big J played Lego’s every single day with, what was his name? And took shortcuts through the  golf course to visit your friend whose Dad worked for Nike.
  • Little J fell in love with the movie “Beaches” and ate candy bars and drank Cokes every afternoon with her best friend Sara.

I had a friend there too. I don’t remember her name. Maybe if I dug out an old journal I’d find it, but I don’t think I want to remember a name. We weren’t friends all that long. One day, out of the blue for me, she basically said,”I can’t be friends with you anymore. I’m trying really hard to be more optimistic and positive and you’re always so negative.”

Talk about a punch to the gut.

Even now I kind of feel this wave of nausea thinking about it.

You know how you sometimes walk along somewhere and all of a sudden you see yourself in an unexpected mirror? It throws you off balance a little. I know I carry around this picture in my head of how I sound and look. But then when I see the real me in a photo or a mirror they don’t match up. What my friend said was like a mirror thrown in front of me.

I think we need those unexpected mental views of ourselves that honest outsiders can provide. I try to be open to their perspective.

I had no idea I was such a downer until she said that. I thought one of the things friends did was share honest thoughts and feelings, even the negatives. Maybe I over shared. Probably she hit the bullseye there. Back in those days I probably rode the negative train, most of the time.

I wish I could say I changed immediately. More than likely I got defensive. More than likely I moped. More than likely I didn’t try to make friends again for a while.

In fact, I’m thinking I probably didn’t really change for the better until Oklahoma a year after Little L joined our gang. Do the math there. That’s a long time as a dweeby, self-absorbed, cloudy skies sort of person.

Sunny is good.

Sunny is good.

I could hope that there’s some chemical equation that makes positive ions/attitudes weigh more than negative ones and that things have balanced out. I think they might not have. For me it’s a nearly constant struggle to “keep on the sunny side of life.” (<= click to hear the song)

What does any of this have to do with how this letter started out?

You all have weathered change and challenge with such bravery and grace. You must have arrived here preprogrammed with awesome genes. You step up, state the facts and take action. Look at you!

When I grow up I want to be like you: open and straightforward with what I think, willing to try new things, brave enough to ask for what I want and need, creatively finding ways around obstacles and difficulties. And optimistic! Yup, you each see life as a bright, good thing.

Thanks for the great examples you are to me. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to have worked the other way around. At least that’s probably what the parenting books all say.

This I know for certain. I’m positive that I love you.



photofy copy 4


“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

~ A.A. Milne


Categories: Friday Letters, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Taking One Day at a Time

It’s Gratituesday! I’m grateful for time with my best friend today. It felt like a “normal” day, not a month or so away from dying kind of day. We talked like it was any old kind of day, well, except for everything we talked about that isn’t like any other kind of conversation most friends get to have.

good day sunshine

good day sunshine (Photo credit: eye of einstein)

But really, it felt wonderful. It felt almost normal. She had more energy than usual. We were in sync, the world’s machinery ran smoothly for us, we laughed, we dodged crying, we felt like a couple of teenagers getting away with something.

We snuck out of the house and got some early lunch before the germ filled crowds showed up. We went to a matinée movie, sitting in a theater completely empty except for the two of us. The place as bacteria free as a person can get out in public. Her immune system appreciated it. We even talked out loud during the movie which made the day even better. No shushing involved.

I think we must have looked like two old sisters spending time together toddling about town leaning on each other, holding each other up.

I often wonder who is helping who in this relationship. Actually, there’s no wonder involved. I’m pretty certain I’m the one getting helped, being served, feeling loved and learning how to be real.

Yup, today felt great.

I’m thankful for every day I can get in with my bestie.

Categories: Cancer, Fun, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wilson and Wilson

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for all the Wilsons in my life.

There are two kinds of Wilsons. Well, three actually. There are people who are actually named Wilson. I’m just talking about the other two kinds.

There’s the Tim the Tool Man Taylor’s neighbor in the old sitcom “Home Improvement” whom we never really know the identity of. I call this sort of friend a Fence Wilson. This near stranger shares great insights, silly quotes, and surprising help. His varied and vast experiences and confidence shed light when things gets dark. Surprisingly this Wilson seems available when his neighbor is in need.

A wood fence

Who’s behind that fence? A friend maybe?

I have Fence Wilsons in my life that serve a similar purpose.  I don’t know them really well and yet they bring light and insight, help and laughter into my life. I consider them friends in every sense of the word. We can go long spans of time without talking and still things just click when we do finally connect. They often share wisdom and insights in our rare and short interactions that carry me through or illuminate a situation. It’s uncanny, but they appear as needed and usually without warning. But their presence warms  and comforts me.

Some of these Wilsons I’ve never even met, except through the internet. Don’t get all weirded out by that. You’d be surprised at how much a friendship can develop that way. I know I have been.

The other kind of Wilson I’m thinking of shares similarities with Chuck’s (Tom Hanks) “friend” the volleyball in the movie “Castaway.” I can see the confused look on your face already. You have inanimate friendships? No. Not that I’m aware of. Hang in here with me while I explain.

photo-17 copy 6

No, this adorable child is not named Wilson. You get the idea though, right?

Wilson arrived unexpectedly in a rather uncommon way. Wilson didn’t look like a friend to start with. In fact, there was some pain involved before the two “friends” hit it off.  It took a bit of trauma for Tom Hanks character to recognize he had a friend in Wilson. There was something of himself in Wilson, albeit it was only a hand print, but it was something primal and important that spoke to Chuck. When no one else was there, Wilson showed up and served as a tenuous link to sanity. Wilson’s companionship probably saved Chuck’s life.

And then look at what a great listener Wilson was. None better. He didn’t give unwanted or unnecessary advice or expect anything unreasonable. He stuck around through some tough times. When it was time for Wilson to move on it was heartbreaking to let him go. But it was time.

Friendships like this Wilson happen rarely which makes them all the more precious. The connection happens sometimes instantly, but usually over time. The package they come in may not read or look like a friend, but a friend it is.

When I’ve felt lost or adrift or in need in reassurance, the Wilsons have come through for me. I am a lucky person that way. Lucky to have friends and a wide variety of them. Some of them are even related to me by blood. Those are particularly precious.

My Wilson friends add variety and flavor and a level of joy I’m particularly grateful for today.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Mental Health, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Walk Away

Original caption: Ne ties a friendship bracele...

I know more lonely people than I want to. I wish I had more time, more of me to go around to fill that gap in their life. Or better yet, I’d like to take on the role of matchmaker  in the friendship department.

You’d think with all the social media available people would feel more connected and less lonely. But the opposite seems true. People see the “friendships” and banter and simply feel more left out than ever. In fact, it seems to extend the junior high and high school drama into adulthood.

I think people forget that friendship is work. It requires something from both sides. Maybe we’ve all gotten a bit lazy, or too busy, or we’re shy, or we’re afraid of being hurt or judged or rejected, or whatever the excuse is and we fail to reach out. And we fail to accept the hand reaching toward us. You can’t get picky when it comes to friendship. There isn’t an ideal friend, there’s no soul mate of friendship. There are friends. They’ve got your back. That’s all that matters.

Forget “besties” and “BFF’s” and “friends forever.”  Those are a dime a dozen.

For real friendship that matters think “workhorse,” or “perseverance,” think “sacrifice.”

“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” — Jon Katz

There are literally millions of quotes out there about friendship. This one bangs the nail solidly. Friendship equals work! “Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired.”

Work + Sacrifice + Perseverance = Friendship

which translates into:

W + S + P = Not So Lonely



Friendship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are you willing to sacrifice? Are you ready to give up security? Are you willing to risk being hurt? Can you take the chance on relationships?

How much work are you able to put into a potential friendship? Can you do a daily phone call? Will you listen and not just expect to be listened to? Are you worth it, in your own eyes?

Can you keep trying even when the results aren’t the ideal you imagined? We’re all simply human after all. Can you resist the need to push away? Can you open your own door to whoever might be knocking?





Categories: Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Can’t Buy Me Love, and Yet, All You Need Is Love? Lucky Me

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for love. I know it sounds sappy, but give me a chance to explain.

I’m grateful for unconditional love from my parents, MSH, my kids, and my extended family. I know that no matter how big I goof up, how whiney I get, how unreliable and messy my life is, they are still going to provide me with with love, acceptance and understanding. Even if they don’t understand, they’ll jump that bridge and love me anyway. I’ve been rescued, resuscitated, healed, helped, snuggled, succored, cared for and cuddled by these people in ways only family can offer. What more could I ask for?

And yet there is more love in my life!

LOVE Sculpture, JFK Plaza

LOVE Sculpture by Robert Indiana, JFK Plaza (Photo credit: euthman)

Shared experiences with a few people have created a love that’s definitely not romance, stronger than friendship and distinct from familial love. I’m not sure there is a word for it. A spiritual connection? It’s an understanding or an emotion that requires no words and no actions. It just is. Does that make sense? Like any rare substance, these precious few relationships are priceless and guarded carefully. Surely there’s a word for this kind of love, but I’ve yet to hear or read it. I may have to invent it.

And More!!

I’m grateful for the quirky love of friendship. Each relationship I have is different, some are easy, some are not, but all involve love and persistence and concern. I have friends I can count on for a hug. Some friends I know will keep me humble with humor and sarcasm. And others see the good in me that no mirror I own ever allows me to see in myself. I can even lay open my heart to some with complete trust and no judgment. Those who trust me in the same way amaze me and instill a desire to try harder, be better and be worthy of that trust.


I’m thankful that so many people have given me the opportunity to get to know and love them. Thinking about all the love in my life is like stumbling on a treasure trove, chests overflowing with diamonds and gems and silver and gold. I can’t imagine feeling any richer than I do now. Love surely makes my world keep spinning, floats my boat, keeps me grounded, fills my days, lights up my dark times, and creates joy.

Yes, I’m definitely grateful for love.


Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Power of Family

The power of Family swirls around me. You can’t argue with the simple evocative strength of the word Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Cousin, Aunt, Uncle, Grandmother, Grandfather, Grandchild, Husband, Wife, Niece, Nephew.

As strong as the ties of friendship might encircle and bind, they cannot entirely compete with the strength and veracity of Family. Maybe they aren’t supposed to compete.  Maybe they are supposed to complement.

If you doubt what I say, then attend a funeral of someone whose life touched thousands.  There are a select few who warrant inclusion in that sacred circle of Family ties, but only a few.  The rest are inherently barely outside the circle, pressing in with love, support, tears, memories.

There are many family like relationships out there.  I am called Auntie or Sister by those I have shared incredible life-changing experiences with. But does that make me Family?  It feels like family, it tastes like family, the hugs mimic family hugs; perhaps sometimes even exceed them in emotion.  But it isn’t Family.

Big “F” little “f”

Maybe the distinction is merely semantic or the difference between Family with a capital “F” and family with a small “f.”

Or is it all about legality and blood lines?  I have no idea.

I do know that I want my Family to know I love them.  I want my Family to know that those connections include a willingness to sacrifice for them.  They come first.  They are the why behind everything. I draw strength from the collective power of the love they have for me.  I count on their unconditional acceptance.  I am who I am in large measure because of their influence in my life, present or distant.  They are foundational and firm and forever.

Schorn Log Cabin, ca. 1700, with the cemetery ...

Schorn Log Cabin, ca. 1700, with the cemetery in between the cabin and church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What about that second circle that surrounds me, my family of friends?  They are included in my willingness to sacrifice.  In fact, it’s that sacrificial nature of those relationships that has made them feel unbreakable.  Their losses are my losses.  My losses, and I’m sure of this, are their losses.  They are family in ways my blood kin are not, in different ways, like chinking between logs in a cabin, or shingles on a sturdy roof.

Both kinds of family feel necessary.  Both house and clothe me in safety, love, reassurance, gentleness and kindness.

To be the recipient of both Family and family is a rare and opulent gift of surpassing beauty.  I hope never to squander such richness.  I hope I can share it, one on one. One heart, one tear, one smile, one hug at a time.

My New Year’s Wish would be that such circles include more people that feel outside of one or both. Does that sound unrealistic?  I don’t think so.  If one person this next year feels more loved, safer, cared for, part of something bigger, because I reached out and pulled them into my Family or family circle then their world and mine improves, lightens and grows.  Would you join in with me in reaching out, including, caring, loving?  Just one person. That’s all it takes.

Categories: Family, Love, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Thousand Words With One Picture

That whole picture worth a thousand words thing?  Yeah.  It’s true.  Sure it’s a cliché, but so what.

When I take a photograph, I’m doing more than copying a scene, or a face, or a place.  I’m also capturing the feelings I’m experiencing.  Anyone else seeing the photo won’t get that part of it.  But for me, all the thoughts leading up to that click and whir, all the fun, or drama, or joy tied up in the photo is still right there.  Seeing the photo is like clicking a link in my head to all those memories.

So when you see the photo I’ve posted today, I know you’ll not appreciate it like I do.  It’s nothing stellar, but it’s a good shot that captured the essential items; sand, waves, sun, people, sky.

I could probably do a thousand words, but I won’t. Here’s just a few my heart and head have attached to this picture:

A. This was my third trip to California, ever, in my entire life. I’m a relative newbie to the whole beach thing.  I don’t get away too often, so I felt really blessed hanging out for a day there.

B. I discovered Boogie Boarding.  Holy Macaroni!!  When I finally caught that wave just right, the world changed.  The ocean became a friend, not a scary thing.  Granted it’s a wild, daring, crazy, slightly drunk friend who pushes you to do things you wouldn’t normally do.  I was instantly hooked.  Couldn’t get enough.  Exhausted to the point of silliness, I could hardly walk or hold on to the board.  But, I kept getting back in for one more wave, and then one more, and one more.  And a couple more.

C. Just before the sky started reaching orange, I saw a bird do a straight on dive into the water. There was no low swoop, or scoop, but a real nose dive.  And then there were more of them, doing their acrobatic Olympic dive thing with casual grace and easy finesse.  Lit up my laugh buttons.

D. I was with a group of good, sweet people who’ve had my back.  Felt lucky sharing the day with them.

Enough words.  Here’s the photo.

Sunset on Coronado Island, San Diego, California

Sunset on Coronado Island, San Diego, California

Categories: Joy, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s Gratituesday!

It’s Gratituesday!  Today I am thankful for the surprising mix of people who have brought me here, to who I am and to how I’m living my life.  We’ve moved around the country some during my married lifetime, and have lived in four different homes in the same town over the past fifteen years.  Every one of those moves placed people in my path who have shaped my view of the world,  sculpted an aspect of personality, tweaked how I tune in to events in my life.

I’ve found connections with an eclectic assortment of perspectives and temperaments, shared inside jokes and laughter with assorted comedic sensitivities, talked to, cried with and worked for people I never would have planned to be involved with.  But always, one person’s chemistry and complexities worked its magic on another. I’m so glad we were thrown together for however long, for whatever purpose.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon (Photo credit: YoTuT)

Sometimes it was a bumpy start.  Sometimes a rough ride in the middle made it seem we’d never learn from or help each other.  Sometimes reason was missing completely from the equation and yet the relationship still worked its purpose, like a river slowly carving away at a cliff wall, one grain of sand at a time.

There have been misunderstandings.  There have been mistakes.  There have been hours of missing those I left behind or friends who moved on ahead.  There have been countless joys, hugs, handshakes, winks, dusty trails, songs sung, tears shed, silences.  Relationships of every hue, tone, timbre, color, and pitch have lent themselves to the ongoing work of me becoming me.

Today I am me because of you.  For that I am grateful beyond imagining.

Categories: Gratituesday, Relationships | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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